Happy New Year 2013!


Here we are again, at the end of another year, at the door of a new one.

Reviewing the goals and resolutions I set last January, I’m glad to discover that I met many of them. There’s no doubt though that 2012 was all about Australia.

In January, this blog was born. I began reading other blogs by Aussies and American expats down under, and I began to seriously put together an itinerary, as well as consider what Australian animals could kill me, how to use my iPhone in Oz, and start preparing my mom tech-wise for my big adventure.

In February, it finally happened. After a year of planning, I touched ground in Australia.

March was a big month of travel. We visited TasmaniaDaylesford, and local attractions such as Federation Square and the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Great Ocean Road

April was an amazing month of new adventures as well and an emotional roller-coaster as my trip began coming to a close. We rode the Puffing Billy Railway, strolled through the serene William Ricketts Sanctuary, attended my first footy game, visited Luna Park, and drove along the Great Ocean Road, the post on which got Fresh Pressed.

In May, I returned to the U.S., but I didn’t want to. In fact, I was very sad to return. I spent the next month thinking about the things I love and hate about Australia as well as exploring my identity as an Cuban-American immigrant and expat.

By June, I’d decided that, despite the great earthquake, life with Theo in Melbourne was for me and I began to think about how to move abroad and spend as much time as possible with my family while I could.

In July, I went to Disney World with my family. Sadly, the U.S. experienced a mass shooting that resulted in the deaths of 12 people and 58 injured. I was glad that I would soon be getting away from gun violence and sad that my country can’t work this problem out.

In late August, I returned to Australia. Much of that month was spent on preparations – how to stay connected with family and friends, what to wear on a long flight, what to bring in my carry-on, and how to entertain myself on 25-hour journey.

September was a month of settling in and trying to figure out how to juggle life in Australia with keeping up with America.

HalloweenIt happened in October that I first really experienced culture shock: no Halloween.

November was also a difficult month. There was no Thanksgiving, as this is an American holiday, my birthday was completely uneventful, and I wasn’t feeling any Christmas spirit. This led me to conclude that Australians don’t really care about life celebrations in the same way Americans do, a sentiment that my Aussie readers disagree with and that resonates with many of my American expat readers. New Year’s is nothing special either, by the way.

December was all about shopping for Christmas. Despite the lack of Christmas spirit all around me, I enjoyed visiting several markets and have become inspired by all the great independent design in Melbourne. Sadly, back in America, there was another mass shooting. It was in a grade school this time and resulted in the deaths of 20 small children and some school staff.

I’m so happy this blog has done well. I received my annual report from WordPress and was pleasantly surprised to discover that this blog had 23,000 views in 2012.

I hope 2013 will be as exciting as this year was. There are things I’m looking forward to.

  • Four more years of Barack Obama. Hopefully, we’ll see some solid, lasting, positive change in the U.S.
  • Great entertainment. The release of The Great Gatsby and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, the conclusion of season three of The Walking Dead, and another season of Game of Thrones.
  • Returning to the U.S. for a visit. It will be lovely to spend time with my family.
  • New discoveries throughout Australia. Sydney, Uluru, Kangaroo Island, Broome – there’s much to see in beautiful Australia. There’s plenty to discover in the nooks of crannies of Melbourne as well.

And I have some resolutions.

  • Read more and read good books. I only read about seven books this year. This year I may go into a classics frenzy and begin 2013 with Hemingway. I’d even love to join a book club.
  • Develop  my professional skills. In 2012, I attended four workshops in blogging, marketing, and community management. I feel good about those and would like to do more in 2013.
  • Set some blogging goals. Increase my readership? Increase my guest blogging? Get Fresh Pressed again? I’ll have to give this one more thought.
  • Develop my arts and crafts skills. Melbourne has amazing and inspiring local design. Theo and his sisters are among the very talented. I joined a few arts and crafts group and I’m looking forward to learning and doing more.
  • Carve out a real working space. Currently I work from a laptop on a cramped little desk. My arts and crafts gear is (dis)organized among various containers here and there and my work space is the cluttered dining table. I need a better solution.

How was 2012 for you? How are you celebrating New Year’s? What are your goals for 2013?

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

It’s been a while since I wrote you a letter, but I’ve moved and wanted to make sure you know that I’m not in Miami, FL anymore; I’m in Melbourne, Victoria. Yep, Australia, that’s right; that’s where the presents should be delivered.

Life in Australia is pretty nice. As you know from your travels, it’s a beautiful country. The food is good, people are relaxed, and Melbourne has a wonderful artsy culture. Australia has (almost) everything so I have a short wish list this year, Santa. You and your elves won’t even break a sweat. Here goes.

  1. Floo Powder and a map of the Floo Network. This will make visiting my family and friends back in Florida easy and inexpensive.
  2. Applicator tampons with high absorbency. In fact, if you could bring these to all Australian chemists, supermarkets, and general stores, that would be great.
  3. Cuban cuisine. Melbourne needs more Cubans in general, but I guess that would make you a people smuggler. Australia kinda frowns on that so let’s just stick to food.
  4. An additional room for this house. I know your elves are more into building toys than houses, but is it really all that different from building a dollhouse? I didn’t think so. I mean, some of Barbie’s dream houses are pretty impressive. And I could really use that spare room for a ritual, crafting, and office space. Please make sure it fits the original style of this 1920s California bungalow though; Theo can be very particular about design and decor.
  5. A car. Any ole thing will do. I haven’t given it much thought, but there’s the Nissan Micra Ti automatic with intelligent keyless entry, reverse parking sensors, front grille, fog lights, and climate control air-conditioning in Monaco Platinum. I’m not picky about the color though.
  6. The Han Solo in Carbonite business card case. I don’t actually have business cards, but I’d get some if I had this case.
  7. That big and fancy Canon digital camera that Theo wants. Is it kosher to ask for gifts on behalf of others or should I persuade him to write his own letter?
  8. A few squeaky balls for Sam. He’s a dog so he can’t write his own letter.

I’ve been good, Santa. Since my last letter twenty-something years ago, I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class, made it through college, stayed away from drugs and bad boys, developed a good work ethic, and am generally friendly and kind. I don’t think these are too much to ask for. Nothing you and your elves can’t handle.

I hope your trip round the world is a good one this year. Stay safe; there’s a lot of crazies out there.